Of borders and homes: The imaginary community of (trans)sexual citizenship

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Abstract

This essay maps the connections between transgender/transsexual rights and nationalism in Australia. Comparing Jay Prosser's idea of a transsexual 'politics of home' with the recent legalisation of transsexual marriage in Australia, it argues that marriage rights are granted by the state on the ability of particular bodies to maintain and reproduce a series of demarcated zones: between male and female, but also between 'Australian' and 'un-Australian', 'white' and 'non-white.' This has been most evident in a successful Australian transsexual marriage case, Re Kevin, where the success of the respondents relied on arguing that transsexuality is a biological condition. Establishing the gender of the transsexual respondent involved 'proving' biology through reference to his social performance of normative masculinity. But the norms of masculinity used to 'prove' such a thing are socially constructed and, as such, racialised: home maintenance, proficiency with power-tools, enjoying the white Australian tradition of barbeques and sport. Exploring the Australian political context of the court case, where 'Australian-ness' has a particular meaning and a particular value, I critique the liberal-democratic capitalist structure of rights claims in which gender variant subjects must present 'whiteness' as a form of cultural capital in exchange for rights. The cost of this exchange falls overwhelmingly on gender variant subjects who don't present a racially/ culturally normative performance of masculinity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)289-309
Number of pages21
JournalInter-Asia Cultural Studies
Volume7
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 1 2006

Keywords

  • Activism
  • Australia
  • Brain sex
  • FTM
  • Gender activism
  • Gender dysphoria
  • Legal rights
  • MTF
  • Nationalism
  • Re Kevin
  • Sexual citizenship
  • Transgender
  • Transsexuality

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